Solicitor arrested over alleged Nigeria bribery

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The Independent Online

A London solicitor was arrested yesterday on suspicion of conspiring to steer massive bribes to Nigerian officials in order to win construction contracts.

Jeffrey Tesler, 60, was arrested at a business address in Tottenham, north London, following an extradition request from the US authorities, Scotland Yard said.

The US has issued a second warrant for the arrest of another Briton, 71-year-old Wojciech Chodan. Prosecutors in Houston, Texas, said both men were charged with conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The men are charged with helping to steer bribe money from a former subsidiary of the Halliburton oil corporation called Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR) Nigerian government officials in order to win contracts valued at more than $6bn (£4.3bn). Authorities say Mr Chodan discussed using Mr Tesler and other "agents" to pay tens of millions of dollars worth of bribes.

Yesterday, Mr Tesler, from north-west London, was taken to a central London police station and appeared before City of Westminster Magistrates Court. He is due to reappear at a later date.

The extradition warrant states that between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2004, Mr Tesler conspired with TSKJ and others to commit bribery and to dishonestly furnish a series of sham consulting agreements.

Last month, KBR pleaded guilty in Houston in the case and agreed to pay more than $400m in fines.

The company admitted authorising and paying bribes for contracts to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

Houston-based KBR is a major engineering and construction services company with operations around the world. It was a member of the TSKJ consortium but was split from Halliburton in 2007.

KBR's former chief executive Albert "Jack" Stanley pleaded guilty last September to his role in the bribery scheme and is awaiting sentencing.